I am home again from Stitches Saskatchewan 2009, and boy! Did I have fun!
I am a very reluctant photographer; it turns out I’m a little shy about taking pictures of people I just met. So, this post will be a little shy on pictures, but hopefully I took enough to convince you that I was actually there, and not just having an imaginary adventure.
The conference was in the village of Muenster, which for those of you unfamiliar with our geography, is just five minutes east of Humboldt. We were in St. Peter’s Abbey, which is a working monastery, complete with 20 or so monks. These monks do a little farming (tons of potatoes, vegetables, honey (delicious honey)), run a printing press, bake totally awesome bread and cookies, open their doors to groups like ours, or writers’ retreats, or whatever, accommodate St. Peter’s College which offers university classes from the University of Saskatchewan, and according to reports, make wine. They took one look at our group and decided not to share.
The knitters were the smallest group- there were only two knitting classes, both led by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. On Friday I took Grok the Sock, which I felt fit in nicely with my recent sock obsession. I picked up enough tips to make it worthwhile, and boy, did we have fun. It was three hours, and it just flew by. It wasn’t a hands-on kind of class, so everyone was working on whatever while Stephanie entertained us. Fittingly, I finished
and realized that I was being oh-so-thrifty, because here are the ankle socks with the leftovers:
Yes, I got a whole pair of ankle socks out of one ball of yarn. Crofter DK is verra, verra nice to knit with, and because of the weight the socks are a little heavier than most socks I’ve done. They’ll be great in my boots or my runners.
Then, flush with my own success, I cast on another pair, but pictures will have to wait.
Day two at Stitches dawned cold and wet (welcome to spring in Saskatchewan: The one thing you can say about the weather any time is that it’s been damned unusual this year.) and it was off to Knitting for Speed and Efficiency. The morning was fun- the throwers got to feel smug, the pickers got to feel smug, we all had fun pretending we were Peruvian men purling our way to fame and riches, and then we were all humbled when Stephanie showed us that we all have ten thumbs and some serious manual dexterity issues. Irish Cottage Knitting? Not to be undertaken by the faint of heart. I know, I know- children can do it, but in our own defence, we were told that the longer we had knit another way, the more challenging it is to pick up the lever method. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. If you’ve ever seen her knit, you can imagine how graceful we all looked, elbows out, exaggerated movements, and brows furrowed. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought “But really, I’m happy with the way I knit. ” I know I was weighing the time it would take to become efficient at the lever method against how much I could knit in the same time using my current method, taking into account how many years of useful knitting life I have left, and I have doubts that there will be any great changes in my method. I will try to practise a little every day just in case I see any glimmer of increased efficiency, but I hold out little hope. And you know what? I’m okay with that. It was interesting, and fun, and by the end of the day I was exhausted and my brain hurt. And I can’t wait to go back next year!***
***Sally Melville is teaching next year. I don’t care what she is teaching; I just care that she’s teaching and I will be there.
Non-technical notes about my weekend:
1. Friday lunch: The coffee cup I used said “I spent most of my money on beer, women and gambling. The rest I wasted.” Old joke, I know, but not quite what I expected in a monastery. We all agreed the mug must have been donated.
2. Language foibles: In South Africa, a “fanny” is a not-so-nice term for a vagina, so if you are travelling there and ask to buy a fanny pack, you will likely be sent to the pharmacy where they will cheerfully supply you with feminine napkins and tampons.
3. I didn’t take wine with me, as I thought it might be inappropriate. Once I checked out the cupboard in the lounge and saw that the wine glasses outnumbered the coffee cups about 3 to 1, it was off to Humboldt to find the liquor store. Charlene, thanks for the ride. It seemed really important at the time.
4. While giving us a tour of the monastery, Father Demetrius told us that the wall between the chapel and the assembly hall was mostly soundproofed, and Stephanie’s keynote speech in the assembly hall that evening certainly tested it. I don’t know if the monks ever heard so much laughter during prayers, and I’m pretty sure Stephanie has never had organ music interludes during one of her talks.
5. While congratulating myself that I did not leave my pillow at the conference (as has happened at many hotels in the past), I inadvertently forgot a hank of Wensleydale wool that I brought for show and tell. I got this wool in Scotland from Teo the Handspinner in Broadford on Skye, so I am hoping that it turns up. Rats!
6. While one of the sewing classes was Bra-making, the monks were not in attendance at show and tell. Too bad- some of the bras were absolutely beautiful!
7. Aurora from Ottawa had really bad laryngitis, so whispered and wrote notes all weekend. Aurora, I hope you can talk when you come back next year!
And now I leave you with a few shots of the weekend:
St. Peter's Abbey
Whatever will we do while we're waiting?
Introducing...The Yarn Harlot! (sorry for the lack of light- it really is her. Just squint.
Also the Belltower
And now, back to my normal life, and wondering if the drywaller will actually show up today. I live in constant if unrealistic hope.
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